I would like to propose a toast. To the people I consider both heroes and villains in my life. These people add colour to living. It would be a boring drab life if you did not have people who inspire us. Those who push us farther, to do more than we thought we could.
Here is to Bikozulu. The first toast goes to you, my friend, for obvious reasons. Without you, I would not be writing. Your words gave me legs. And now here I am. A long way from literary brilliance, but a few steps closer every day. And here is to Zukiswa Wanner. The one who exposes my ignorance every day on WhatsApp. Who needs 8-4-4 when you have this South African jaber? We should share a Tusker again soon.
To other writers. It is believed that God created human beings, then chose the best kind to be writers. And the latest selection, the new emergent voices from around the globe includes names like Ras Mengesha, Ndinda Kioko, Moses Kilolo, Aleya Kassam, Obinna Udenwe, Olubunmi Familoni, Alexander Ikawah, Beverly Akoyo, Ngartia Bryan and every single member of the Creative Lounge (including those who left).
To the poets and the spoken word artists. I do not know the difference. I do not know whether there is a difference. What I know I that to be a poet is to be divine. You guys are the soul of wit. Especially you, Akello, Richie Maccs, Rixpoet, Sheila Okong’o and Dorphan.
To those who read, asanteni sana. And yes, sometimes you are not just a consumer of our work. Sometimes you are also the material. The case study. Lakini to be honest, not all of those stories were about you. So get over yourself.
To Ramsey Street. Thogi, Onyi, Abi, JP, Kaimuri and the one man who can never find himself when he Googles his name; Samora Machel. One day, when we find a working formula for being an adult, we will grow up. In the meantime, we will gather every Sunday and break bread while shooting Y DoWeDoIt. Well, honestly, we meet for the curve TV, and once in a while, Onyi’s cooking.
To the drifters on Facebook. To the idiot who thought it wise to put that binging notification sound on Facebook and that annoying video auto-play functionality. The hallowed council of the interwebs led by the paramount chiefs; Wanja Kavengi, Shoba Gatimu and Gikonyo Kelvin. Just remember that bhangi sio kunde. To the Kenyans on Twitter – the robots and the humans- keep winning.
Remember also to live large because life is for living. We will have enough time to relax when we are dead.
And to my fellow bachelors of Lang’ata. Martin Maitha (Mbolonye). Oscar Mukundi (Chess). James Mbugua (Manywele). Christopher Kibaki (Kibz). Paul Wafula (Abubakar). We are at this confusing moment in time. A time when we are trying to be men but deep inside we are still boys. We are struggling with new ideals of what it means to be a man at a moment so confusing. On one hand there is the old belief of what it means to be a man; the stone cold provider and protector. On the other , there is the man who came with the new millennium. The one who is allowed to cry in public and say shit like ‘I love you’ to their kids. To be old school is to be misogynistic. To be new school is to be a sell-out to men. We do not know which man we should become as the thickets in our crotches get thicker. Either way, here’s to us, gentlemen; we don’t kiss and tell, we kiss and exaggerate!
To those who have found what they are looking for. To those who are still searching. To those waking up next to someone they do not know. To those waking up next to the same person every day. To the dream chasers and the game changers. To the grammar nazi and the illiterate people with social media accounts. To those of you whose mothers paid for holiday tuition Math classes, but have never applied Pythagoras Theorem in your lives. To those of you who were caned for failing Trigonometry. To those who follow Baba, to those who follow Kamwana, to whoever fixed Ruto and everyone else caught in between. To the fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers. To family. To ex girlfriends; just know that it wasn’t you, it was me. To the newlyweds on honeymoon who think that sex will always be that good and frequent. To the old couples who know better. To the people in come we stay relationships (or cum we stay because she got pregnant). To the ladies of the night; the ones who in high heels and short skirts, you who have to freeze in the cold to look hot. To the glorious women who run massage parlours with happy endings. To feminism – whatever that means – and the people behind it; all I know is that you mean well.
To all of you, I tip my hat.
Today is Mashujaa Day. The day Kenya celebrates her heroes. Here is a small fact. Our commander-in-chief will not mention you. Imagine you are not even a chip on his shoulder. But though the president will not celebrate you, I celebrate you. Whoever you are. However you are. Wherever you are or come from. Whoever you love. All of you. (Well, except you RJ who dared me to do squats juzi because I am getting fat and unfit, thereby setting my thighs on fire for two days in a row. You are definitely not a shujaa in my books today. Maybe next week.)
I celebrate ALL of you because of a film I recently watched. The one about the trial of Adolf Eichmann; the SSS operative who facilitated the Final Solution to the Jewish Problem that had, for too long, bothered Führer Adolf Hitler. Truth is, we are not so different from Hitler and his Nazi henchmen. They had Treblinka and Auschwitz camps while Kenya had Kasarani Concentration Camp. All of which served the same purpose.
One thing from that movie stands true. Each of us Kenyans who feel that God created us better than other human beings has stood on the threshold that Hitler, Eichmann, William Ruto and Goodwill Zwelithini stood. And each Kenyan who has allowed the shape of another person’s nose, or the colour of their skin, or their ethnic identity, or the way they make love or worship their God or whoever they choose to fuck, to poison his/her feelings about them, has known the loss of reason that leads beasts of men to their madness. For that is how it all begins.
So remember that it takes all kinds to make a world. Remember also to live large because life is for living. We will have enough time to relax when we are dead.
Finally, here is to you who is reading this. Fill your glasses with something brewed for a moment of celebration and then raise them high, invincible or otherwise, by way of salamati. Help me dedicate this toast to the one thing every human being has loved ever since s/he was born. Here is to nipples. For without them, breasts would not have a point.
*this didn’t turn out to be a quickie after all, aye?*